Just over four years ago now, I wrote a post for this site called Dollar Sign on the Scout. A nod, that title, to an excellent work of non-fiction by Kevin Kerrane. The basic goal of the post was to identify those scouts who had created the most surplus value for their respective clubs — which is to say, had signed the players who produced wins above and beyond the sort their respective signing-bonus dollar figures would typically fetch on the open market. For the purposes of that study, I used Victor Wang’s then mostly current work on prospect valuations (updated multiple times in the interim). I also used the signing-scout data made available for each prospect by Baseball America in their annual handbook documenting such players.
By this methodology, the top scout over the five-year period between 2006 and -10 was Detroit’s Bill Buck, who was given credit for signing Cameron Maybin, Rick Porcello, and Justin Verlander — which triumvirate received nearly $10 million in bonuses, but whose rankings among Baseball America’s top-100 prospects at various points suggested they’d produce over $70 million more than that for the club in terms of overall value.
The thing about Porcello and Maybin and Verlander, though, is that they were all drafted in the first round, and first-round signings are typically the result not merely of a single, unkempt bird-dog following his intuition down a dusty, rural two-track, but rather of a decision made by a collection of front-office employees — including crosscheckers, a scouting director, and the general manager. As such, it doesn’t entirely make sense to credit an area scout with the signing of first-round draftee.
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